Whether you’re trekking across the continent or running a quick cross-town errand, adventure-touring bikes are adept tools for a wide variety of uses. Having spent the past few weeks living with the 2019 BMW R 1250 GS Adventure has provided a refreshing reminder of why the large-displacement adventure-touring segment holds broad spread appeal.

Loaded With Luxury

BMW’s Premium Package ($3,450) and Exclusive Style Package ($500) options graced our testbike with an upgrade to IMU-based rider aids consisting of lean-sensing Dynamic Traction Control, (cornering) ABS Pro, (incline-sensing) Hill Start Control Pro. Premium features also include Next-Gen Electronic Suspension Adjustment and Gear Shift Assist Pro (up/down quickshifter), cruise control, heated grips, saddlebag mounts, tire pressure monitor, keyless ride, and much more.

Call Of The Wild On Hold

Our testbike’s OE-fitment road-oriented Michelin Anakee III rubber and inconvenient omission of BMW’s accessory aluminum side cases ($1,456) ruled out a run to the Yukon. Several day rides in the Sierra Nevada foothills, however, have left me enthused with the bike’s newly improved sporting capability and innate creature comforts.

R 1250 GS Adventure
As tested, our R 1250 GS Adventure has a price tag of $23,395.Jeff Allen

Dashing New Features

A push of the keyless ignition button boots the all-new 6.5-inch full-color hi-res TFT dash to life with its home screen dominated by a large bar-graph-style tachometer, digital speedometer, and gear selection indicator. The dash provides an intuitive multi-page menu with extensive trip computer functionality, and facilitates altering rider aids, suspension settings, checking service info, and more. Bluetooth connectivity for pairing smartphones and headsets to the bike comes standard and displays phone, music, and basic GPS navigation (via the BMW Connected app) information on the dash. With a bit of practice, operating BMW’s Multi-controller wheel on the left grip in conjunction with the various switch gear buttons quickly became second nature.

Tailor To Fit

With its massive 7.9-gallon fuel tank topped up, dropping the 625-pound, tall off-road-capable Bavarian beast off its centerstand and backing out of the garage onto my gravel driveway was not to be taken lightly. Moving its adjustable-height saddle to the low position along with selection of minimum spring preload on the ESA dash menu lowered the bike enough for my 32-inch inseam to achieve a flat-footed stance at stops.

BMW’s Multi-controller wheel
Set on the left handlebar, a cluster of switch gear buttons and BMW’s Multi-controller wheel offers an intuitive way to toggle through the GS Adventure’s dashboard and various ride modes.Jeff Allen

Safety Net

Early in my first outing, a low tire pressure alert lit up the dash! Seems the tire pressure had been reduced for prior off-road use. Readjusting pressures for pavement riding at the closest service station was a breeze with front and rear tire psi displayed to the tenth of a pound in real time on the dash.

Hill Start Pro is a convenience that can be configured to manual, automatic, or disabled. The new Auto mode applies the brake when the bike comes to a stop on an incline greater than plus or minus 5 degrees, while manual hold requires a firm brake application while at a stop to activate. The system releases the brake automatically when pulling away from a stop, and I never experienced engine stall or even a hint of rearward roll on steep inclines.

Dynamic Brake Control is another new safety feature made possible by ride-by-wire throttle control. Guarding against potential whiskey throttle during a panic stop, DBC closes the throttle regardless of twist grip position during sudden hard braking. I intentionally put it to the test several times and it works as intended.

BMW R 1250 GS wheelie
On the Cycle World dyno, the BMW R 1250 GS Adventure pumps 116.9 hp at 7,500 rpm and 92.1 pound-feet of torque at 6,200 rpm. That's enough grunt for one-wheeled antics.Jeff Allen

More Powerful And Refined

BMW has endowed its air-/liquid-cooled flat twin with a healthy displacement increase from 1,170cc to 1,254cc along with its innovative ShiftCam variable intake valve timing/lift. On the Cycle World dyno the new GS Adventure enjoys a 10 pound-foot torque increase across its entire rev range with a notably flatter torque spread than its predecessor. Peak output has increased 13 hp, and there is no perceivable step in delivery as the cam timing shifts. The engine now idles more steadily, is smoother running at basement revs, and purrs like a contented kitten on the highway with just a hint of mild vibration felt in the grips.

Gear Shift Assist is slightly abrupt changing up from first or second gear if the clutch isn’t used, but produced pleasingly seamless action working through the upper gears. Auto-blip downshifts felt fluid throughout the box and made last-moment downshifts entering corners uncannily drama free.

BMW R 1250 GS TFT dashboard
The 6.5-inch TFT dashboard perched behind the handlebars offers an intuitive base for ride information, while also having an ability to connect to your smartphone via BMW Connected app.Jeff Allen

Ride Mode Flexibility

Selectable modes labeled Dynamic, Road, Rain, and Enduro—each with a unique combination of throttle response, peak power, DTC, and ABS sensitivity settings—can be changed on the fly. Having tried each mode on smooth, bumpy, wet, and dry pavement, I can say the Dynamic’s sharper response and sporting delivery proved very controlled and well suited for most scenarios. I’m not too proud, however, to admit Rain mode provided an added sense of safety in truly slick conditions that I found comforting.

Venturing onto a groomed fire road put Enduro mode to use, allowing just enough rear slip under acceleration and braking for executing thrilling controlled drifts. I trod more lightly when skating with Enduro Pro selected, an additional mode intended for off-road tires that allows even more rear wheelspin and full rear brake lock-up.

Dynamic Suspension Adjustment
The GS Adventure’s Dynamic Suspension Adjustment tunes damping via preselected modes, tailoring the motorcycle’s handling to the conditions at hand.Jeff Allen

Road-Hugging Handling

The GS Adventure’s long-travel suspension soaks up bumps with adventure bike aplomb, yet BMW’s Telelever front end keeps chassis pitch motion nicely in check. With the softer Road damping selected, stability proved unflappable at a very sporting pace, while toggling ESA into Dynamic damping effectively increased the degree of feedback and chassis response for my more manic back road blasts. I also find ABS Pro to be a true marvel, particularly when surprised by nasty pavement bumps entering corners.

A Multi-tool Of Motorcycles

With legs for travel, a refined balance of sporting potential, all-round versatility including off-road capability and a host of safety, comfort, and convenience features, BMW’s transcontinental trekker is now better than ever. The Yukon calls.

2019 BMW R 1250 GS Adventure Specs

MSRP: $23,395
ENGINE: 1,254cc, air-/liquid-cooled, DOHC flat twin w/ BMW ShiftCam
BORE x STROKE: 102.5mm x 76mm
HORSEPOWER: 116.9 hp @ 7,500 rpm (Cycle World dyno)
TORQUE: 92.1 lb.-ft. @ 6,200 rpm (Cycle World dyno)
CLUTCH: Multi-plate wet clutch, hydraulic operation
FRAME: Two-section w/ load-bearing engine
FRONT SUSPENSION: 37mm BMW Telelever, central spring strut; 8.3-in. (210mm) travel
REAR SUSPENSION: BMW Paralever, WAD strut; 8.7-in. (220mm) travel
FRONT BRAKE: 4-piston fixed caliper, dual 305mm floating discs w/ BMW Motorrad Integral ABS
REAR BRAKE: 2-piston floating caliper, 276mm disc w/ BMW Motorrad Integral ABS
WHEELS, FRONT/REAR: Cross spoke, 3.00 x 19 in. / 4.50 x 17 in.
RAKE/TRAIL: 26.3°/4.1 in. (104mm)
WHEELBASE: 59.7 in. (1,517mm)
SEAT HEIGHT: 35.0 in. (889mm)
FUEL CAPACITY: 7.9 gal. (30L)
WEIGHT: 625 lb. (283kg)
CONTACT: bmwmotorcycles.com

Cycle World 2019 BMW R 1250 RT Performance Data

1/4 Mile 11.39 sec. @ 118.36 mph
0-60 mph 3.16 sec.
0-100 mph 7.23 sec.
40-60 mph (top gear) 2.62 sec.
60-80 mph (top gear) 2.84 sec.
60-0 mph 128 ft.
30-0 mph 32 ft.
AVG. MPG 38.1